Guest post: 10 Things Guaranteed to Appeal to a 3-year-old in a Museum (or Art Gallery)

Whilst I await the imminent arrival, I’m delighted to welcome my first guest blogger – Herself from Kidding Herself, a child’s guide to going out. I’m sure this post will ring true with anyone who has ever taken a toddler to a museum!

Mama has suggested that I tell you a bit about the sorts of things a three-year-old enjoys in museums (and art galleries). This is because I am a three-year-old and I go to museums (and art galleries) quite often.
1. Old stuff on the floor. Some museums are kind enough to put their artefacts within easy reach. This is excellent. It’s not every day you get to handle a three thousand-year-old stone elephant.

A rope barrier in a museum

A rope hurdle!

2. Rope barriers. Even better is when they make it more interesting by putting one of those little rope hurdles in front. This sort of thing seems to defeat the adults utterly, but with a little effort they are easily conquered. I like to jump over them, but sliding under would work too. If you get bored of that you can also try unhooking the ropes. Some of the ones at waist height whip back into the next post with a really satisfying splonk.
3. Fire extinguishers. Museums seem to particularly like having fire extinguishers about, which is great because I particularly like fire extinguishers. They are BRIGHT RED and have really interesting shiny sticky-outy bits to prod at and stroke.

A bench to climb on!

4. Benches. For some reason, some museums are not overly keen on having my sticky hands on their stuff. Not even the fire extinguishers. That’s why they provide benches for me to climb on, crawl along, fall off and hide behind.
5. Buttons. Other places positively encourage the touching with buttons. Sometimes when you press them, they make things light up, or move about, or make a sound. This is nice, but not essential. Buttons are all sorts of fun in and of themselves. Tchk, tchk, tchk, tchk, tchk, tchk, tchk, tchk, tchk.
6. Horses. It doesn’t really matter whether they are alive, dead, skeletal, big small, in a picture or what. Every museum must have a horse or two about the place somewhere. Luckily, most of them do.
7. Open space. I like to roam widely and at speed. It’s helpful when the museums we visit have large open areas for me to gambol around. I can dance past any number of glass cases, significant objects or dioramas with barely a pause.
8. Lack of open space. Other museums have lots of maze-like corridors and intriguingly small box-like rooms. Mama really enjoys it when I whip round a corner or two and disappear, especially when the chaos of school parties is added to the mix. The adrenalin shot of not knowing where I am and having to fight her way through mildly excited small bodies to the place she last saw me in an unfamiliar public space keeps her young.
Light fittings in a museum

Yay – light switches!

9. Random architectural features. I am regularly fascinated by gratings, gutters, door handles, light fittings, plinths, columns, tiles and especially STAIRCASES! I love staircases. I make Mama leave the pushchair at home, or she will walk past all the staircases and use the lift instead. Lifts have buttons, of course. But they are no staircase.
10. A cafe. I like hot milk. Also, cake. We can spend ages in the cafe. At least as much time as in the exhibition areas. This is particularly true when we take Babushka with us. In fact, sometimes I think we should just skip the rest and go straight to the cafe.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the actual displays they have in museums (and art galleries) are also quite interesting. I can get quite enthusiastic about a historically/scientifically/culturally themed play area too.
But nothing beats a good fire extinguisher. Fact.
Enjoyed that? I for one had a good, knowing chuckle at some of those points. You can read lots more of Herself’s reviews here: Kidding Herself.



  1. Vicky
    July 9, 2014 / 9:41 am

    Hope you don’t mind me adding – a Degas bronze on a wooden plinth with no barrier, along with a dutch security guard running towards me shouting ‘nay, nay nay!’ guaranteed to get my two year old self ridiculously excited by the man wanting to play catch!

    • museummum
      July 9, 2014 / 11:14 am

      Ooh, a chase game in another language – that does sound like fun!

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